Tarkanian Classic Takeaways



Thierry Darlan had eyes flocking, and for due reason. The 6-6 guard began his ascension this past July in Atlanta, then put together an impressive campaign in the African Qualifiers and now he's squarely among 2023's elite. A twitchy athlete with a 7-1 wingspan, ultra fluid movement skills, a blossoming off the bounce attack, defensive versatility and real passing chops. Paint touches come at volume, as defenses struggle mightily to wall off Darlan even given the slightest of lanes. The 18 year old's handle and decision-making looked improved since the summer, but they should continue to be areas of focus moving forward. While the on-ball role Darlan is thrusted into with the NBA Africa may is clearly too hefty at this juncture, as the game slows down, the fabric of a pass, dribble, shoot hyper-athletic creator is ever-present. Indications are that Darlan will sign with Ignite and play alongside Matas Buzelis, London Johnson and company next year, although there are a variety of avenues on the table. If and when Darlan enters 2023 rankings, top five feels like a floor at this point given the wealth of indicators.

Few left a stronger impression for me than 2025 big Khaman Maluach. Just recently turned 16 years old, the seven-foot South Sudan native has the tools to be NBA Africa's next young star following Darlan. A true rim deterrence with quickness off the floor and substantial shot blocking instincts at such an early stage. Fantastic hands, interior touch and runs the floor extremely hard. The flashes didn't end there, as Maluach fired from beyond the arc with confidence and relative fluidity on solid volume. While the cognition and overall process offensively have room to evolve, Maluach's two way dominance and functionality given his size and age were mightily impressive. The class of 2025 appears loaded early on, but it'll be tough to keep Maluach outside the very top group.




A new name to surface from the weekend, Bella Vista's Makhan Diouf turned heads in the desert. The 7-0 2024 big is originally from Senegal, but played the last three years in France before arriving in Arizona. A long, rangy athlete that doesn't move like most seven-footers given his lateral quickness, fast-twitch and fluidity in the open floor. Diouf brought unique value on both ends, serving as the trigger man at times and switching out in space onto all five spots. Covers plenty of ground defensively, changed directions in a hurry and routinely met attempts on the glass. A roaring motor to go with notable tools are the baseline, but Diouf is ahead of the curve skill wise and popped as a handler with enticing shooting indicators. A recruitment that could pick up rather quickly in the coming months and into the spring.




Alta (UT) native Jaxon Johnson impressed mightily this past summer with the Utah Prospects and continues to trend in the right direction. A highly skilled 6-8 wing with a soft touch perimeter stroke on an elevated release. The 2024 wing plays with a sense of control, never doing too much and consistently making the right play as a connective piece. Owns a functional handle, passing feel and strong instincts cleaning the glass. Stanford became the first high major to get involved in late September, but certainly shouldn't be the last. Playing at his hometown school in Utah, Johnson could be an easy one to overlook nationally but his blend of processing and shooting at size screams with scalability to the next level.

For Faith Family Academy's Jadyn Toppin, it wasn't anything all too different than what he's shown over the last year or so, yet continues to look like an early steal for Richard Pitino and New Mexico. Each time out, Toppin's impact in the margins leaves a strong impression. Go-go gadget arms on the glass, soft hands and extremely high level positioning as a finisher, rebounder and interior defender. Advanced understanding of angles on the defensive end, bothersome playing at the level in the pick & roll and stacks up deflections defending in rotation. Low post craft, polished footwork, passing instincts and a potent over-the-shoulder hook over the top of length. A unique blend of traits given his frame at a wiry 6-8, but there's no discounting Toppin's impact on both ends of the floor. Quite the get for the Lobos.

After diving in on FIBA U18 action this past summer, Sebastian Rancik popped in a big way for me with the Slovakian national team. Few months later, the JSerra (CA) wing put together a big few days in Vegas. Skilled 6-9 wing with a tough release to get an impactful contest on and useful patience on the offense end. An over-the-top playmaker and shot maker with an intriguing feel and creativity for manipulating defenses off the bounce. Gaining strength, being able to withstand bumps and maintain slashing lanes will be key areas of growth moving forward. Few offers in the fold already, but the 2024 wing could see heightened recruiting traffic over the coming months.




Lorenzo Romar and Pepperdine have made their mark the last few years identifying and evaluating late-bloomers and undervalued prospects out West, and they've got another on the way in Crossroad's Nils Cooper. Son of 12 year NBA veteran and Lakers great Michael Cooper, the 6-5 2023 guard made an incredibly impressive first impression. A fast-twitch, versatile on-ball creator with pass, dribble and shoot indicators. Quick change of direction, a mature demeanor and approach to go with big time instincts on the defensive end. Adding strength will go a very long way towards accentuating his strengths as a decision-maker and multi-faceted two-way guard in the years to come. Cooper has the tools to be the next notable prospect in line in Malibu following Kessler Edwards, Maxwell Lewis and Houston Mallette. 




Sutton had his fair share of big moments this summer with WACG, kicking off his recruitment with offers from Tennessee State and Fresno State. An explosive 6-9 wing athlete with a smooth handle in space and subtle craft slashing to the cup. Now sliding into more of a primary role out West with Accelerated Prep, Sutton's intrigue as a multi-level scorer and creator have been on display. Attacking off hang dribbles, generating mismatches and consistently leveraging his burst to draw fouls and create rim attempts off the bounce. Functionality as a shooter has room to grow, but his overall assertiveness is certainly on the uptick since the summer. Chock-full of quick twitch, energy and physical upside at 6-9, the Missouri native has the looks of a big time riser in the class of 2024. 




Chris Nwuli continues to rise and is squarely in the five-star, top ten mix in a strong 2025 class. Around the clock energy, powerful athleticism and a versatile defensive imprint, the Vegas native has showed better with each viewing over the last six months or so. A violent finisher and a fast developing playmaker attacking downhill. Hard-nosed, physical on the glass and can wreak havoc on the defensive end in non-traditional ways. Continued marginal growth as a handler and spot up shooter will be areas to monitor over the coming months.

Adam Oumiddoch exploded onto the scene last winter on MADE's East Circuit and has quickly settled in at the next level with Bishop O'Connell. While the 6-5 guard has thrived previously in a high usage, free flowing setting, he's steadily adjusting to playing off ball and attacking off the catch. Touch extends to well beyond the arc and impressed early as a zone-breaker. Smooth, balanced shooting stroke to go with polished shot preparation and a quick first step. For such a young creator, Oumiddoch bends defenses in a wide-variety of ways and consistently makes the right read attacking a tilted defense. Feel for the game is extremely advanced at an early stage and the Virginia native continues to assert himself as one of 2026's must-know's.

Son of 18 year NBA vet, Tajh Ariza's glaring upside quickly became a storyline out of Tark. The young St. Bernard (CA) guard has taken a leap physically, growing to 6-6 in a short span since appearing at our West MSA back in the summer. An advanced athlete with strong defensive instincts, Ariza shot passing lanes and was at his best playing out in transition. A baby deer in many ways come half-court offense, but has clean shot organization in the intermediate and made some tough ones in the heart of the defense. Intriguing pace, handle flashes and flexibility finishing in traffic. Early stages, but the bloodlines, physical makeup and athleticism create a vastly impressive baseline projecting ahead.


Modou Fall Thiam    2025, NBA Africa

NBA Africa's rotation ran deep, and Modou Fall Thiam impressed mightily off the bench. A long wing shooter with a fluid southpaw stroke. Both with time and space as well as against hard closeouts, Thiam filled it up from beyond the arc. Defends multiple spots, provided value on the glass and displayed a variety of enticing shooting indicators.

Dedan Thomas    2024, Liberty (NV)

Oozing with toughness and competitiveness, Thomas' off-kilter pace and sharp handle gave defenses fits. A master at finding his way to the heart of defenses, the 6-1 guard excels playing off two feet, foul-grifting and collapsing defenses off the bounce. A cerebral presence and a natural playmaker with strong intangibles. While still in the class of 2024, it seems Thomas looks like arguably 2023's top available prospect if he chooses to forgo his senior season at Liberty. 

Alejandro Aviles     2025, Dream City Christian (AZ)

Nothing all too new for Aviles, but continues to impress with his steady production and interior polish. A physical, hard-nosed rim finisher with either hand to go with strong footwork and toughness. Young, but has such a strong grip on positioning on the defensive end as well as from the dunkers spot and as a roll man. Nothing flashy, just uber productive and full of energy each time out. The 6-9 Puerto Rican big man should continue to evolve into one of 2025's best bigs as he adds strength and experience.

Daniel Vieira-Tuck     2024, Colorado Prep (CO)

First viewing and came away intrigued with the Portuguese guard. Slinky mover with an intermediate scoring prowess, Vieira-Tuck plays light on his feet and does the bulk of his work off the ball. Early stages physically and has plenty of room to add mass, but liked the feel for the game, shooting makeup and craft on the offensive end. 

Seifeldin Hendawy   2023, NBA Africa

No easy task carving out time on a deep NBA Africa roster stockpiled with athletes, but loved what Egyptian guard Seifeldin Hendawy provided as a high-wired ancillary wing. Fluid movement skills to go with an impressive frame, Hendawy made his mark as a defensive playmaker. 17 year old wing is lightning quick laterally and disruptive at the point of attack. Advanced screen navigation, switch-ability and quick hands guarding on ball. Plus feel as a playmaker and knocked down a few clean catch & shoot three's as well. Wealth of experience and success on the international stage early on to go with a mature wiring and approach makes Hendawy one of the more enticing available names on the board, while reclassing back to 2024 is on the table.

Baye Ndongo     2023, Colorado Prep (CO)

Buzz has been building on CO Prep's Baye Ndongo and saw some of why while in Vegas. 6-9 big with a sense of controlled power and aggression. Soft hands, quick off the floor, high feel as a cutter and timely instincts as a shot blocker. Colorado, Nebraska, San Diego, Michigan and Rutgers make up a final five.

Ethan Lathan   2024, Calvary Christian (FL)

There was plenty of optimism early on in Lathan's high school career, and while injuries derailed some time over the last two years, the 6-10 big man is certainly back on course with Calvary Christian. Coming off a strong summer with MOKAN in the EYBL, Lathan's vertical pop and physical approach impressed. Timing as a shot blocker in drop, strong mobility and subtle passing flashes bred optimism. A 2024 recruitment that could re-gain steam heading into the spring.

Jaxon Richardson    2026, Bishop Gorman (NV)

The younger brother of highly touted 2024 guard Jase and the son of 18 year NBA veteran Jason Richardson, Jaxon impressed off the bench for the Gaels. A figure in MADE's West Circuit over recent years, the 6-5 wing has found his footing on a talented Bishop Gorman roster rather quickly. An explosive leaper with cutting instincts, physical upside, ground coverage and defensive range. One of the West Coast's premier young prospects.

Arne Osojnik     2023, Dream City Christian (AZ)

An additional standout with notable international experience, Osojnik leapt out early on for DCC. 6-5 Slovenian national with a mature off-ball acumen, polished footwork and a highly valuable perimeter skillset. Picteresque mechanics, a functional handle and a competitor on the defensive end. Chance to be a big time value add late in the process.

Donovan Rakotonanahary    2024, Redemption Christian (NY)

A key piece of a Madagascar FIBA U18 group that turned heads at the African Championship over the summer, Rakotonanahary is a new name to monitor on the East Coast. At 6-8 with fluid athleticism and plays light on his feet, the toolsy wing has an alluring blend of physical upside, twitch, energy and explosiveness. Ways to go in terms of skill growth and the speed of the game, but the young swingman is impactful with his tools on either end early on.


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